Trevor Maxwell of Cape Elizabeth has helped connect thousands of cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers across North America, inspiring men to take on the disease as a pack rather than lone wolves. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

From a small coastal town in Maine to British Columbia, Florida, California and seemingly everywhere in between, Man Up to Cancer is inspiring men to fight the disease as a pack, rather than lone wolves. In the three years since its inception, the organization has grown to 2,000 members.

Man Up to Cancer founder Trevor Maxwell of Cape Elizabeth has made it his mission to “help inspire men to avoid isolation,” which he says many are prone to do in a health crisis.

“Men who isolate when they go through cancer have worse mental health, they’re more likely to have their relationships break up, and they have worse medical outcomes,” Maxwell said.

Man up to Cancer’s Trevor Maxwell’s book was released this month.

At the age of 41, in 2018, Maxwell was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. Since then he has had five surgeries, chemotherapy and immunotherapy and participated in a clinical trial. Throughout that, he created an online support community and started a podcast, has been a speaker at national events and has been honored, including receiving the Dempsey Center’s 2022 Amanda Dempsey Award.

Man Up to Cancer chapters have popped up across the country, spawning in-person meetups. This September Maxwell organized a Man Up to Cancer in-person retreat in upstate New York.

“That was really awesome,” he said. “You build real friendships in this group online, and then when you meet each other, it just takes us to that next level.”


This month, he released, “Open Heart, Warrior Spirit: A Man’s Guide to Living with Cancer.” The book includes lessons Maxwell has learned through experience, advice for dealing with medical professionals, and mental health tools.

His diagnosis was a “real psychological shock,” he said.

“You know, when you’re a relatively young dad and you have young kids and get a life-threatening diagnosis, it’s pretty crushing,” Maxwell said. “I really struggled, especially that first year, with depression, anxiety. My mental health really went to rock bottom.”

Maxwell’s family and friends rallied around him, refusing to let him fight the disease alone.

“They really loved me through it,” he said. “I’m just really fortunate to have that family support and friend support where, even though I was at the darkest of times, they were just like, ‘you know what? No matter what happens with your cancer, we’re here for you.’”

But Maxwell saw that not everyone has that support or even seeks help. Men especially, he said, have a tough time opening up about what they’re going through with the mentally, emotionally and physically draining disease. After his diagnosis, Maxwell began attending local support groups where he would sometimes be the only man in the room.


At the core of Man Up to Cancer is “The Howling Place,” a private Facebook group of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

Howling Place member Bryan Mingle of Florida was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer in August and is coming up on his fourth and final chemo treatment. Through his first three rounds of chemo, he said, The Howling Place made him realize he doesn’t need to go through them alone. Reading about other men actively going through chemo and those who have completed treatment lifted him up, he said.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re never going to get through it, and don’t want to, and that leads to giving up,” Mingle told The Forecaster. “The Howling Place gives you hope.”

Michael Riehle of New York was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in June 2020, joined the group, and has since become part of Man Up to Cancer’s leadership team.

“There’s really nothing else out there like it for men and what we have to face with cancer,” Riehle said. “It really allows us to be ourselves and open up emotionally, and verbalize these things we wouldn’t often talk about.”

After three major surgeries and 21 rounds of chemo, Riehle said he is “18 months NED, no evidence of disease.”


Maxwell received his latest of five surgeries in June and is “watching some spots of concern,” he said, but is not currently in need of treatment.

Meanwhile, he’s moving forward with Man Up to Cancer in all its iterations.

“There was an old path for guys with cancer to just go it on their own,’” Maxwell said. “This is my invitation to say, ‘there’s a new path, and we go through it together like we’re a wolf pack.’”

For more information, go to

Comments are not available on this story.